What Is the Connection between Obesity and Self-Esteem?

Esther Ejim
Esther Ejim
Obesity is a serious issue that not only affects the self-esteem of the obese, but it can also lead to some negative health consequences as well.
Obesity is a serious issue that not only affects the self-esteem of the obese, but it can also lead to some negative health consequences as well.

Obesity and self-esteem are often connected due to the psychological impact that being overweight can exert on people. Obesity is a serious issue that not only affects the self-esteem of the obese, but it can also lead to some negative health consequences as well. Society has established a certain standard of beauty that makes little room for the obese. This standard of beauty is consistently promoted in fashion magazines, on billboards, and in movies and TV commercials.

Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem, and even obesity.
Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem, and even obesity.

This type of exclusion causes feelings of inadequacy among the obese, who often feel they do not measure up to the society’s concept of beauty. This is further compounded when such overweight people are teased or ridiculed due to their weight. A number of factors affect the level of low self-esteem in relation to being overweight.

People are described as obese when their total body fat appears to be excessive in proportion to the rest of their body size. This occurs when a person’s weight is more than 20 percent above what is considered normal for his or her height and build. The degree of excess body weight can have a direct correlation to the degree of lowered self-esteem in an overweight person. Someone who is morbidly obese will probably have a more negative sense of self-perception than someone who is only about 20 percent overweight. Morbid obesity is when a person weighs 50 percent more than what is normal for his or her body type.

Culture plays an important role in obesity and self-esteem because some cultures are more tolerant and accepting of overweight people than others. For people raised in cultures that consider obesity to be a negative feature, their level of self-esteem will likely be lower. On the contrary, those raised in cultures that do not make them feel as if being overweight is negative may avoid feelings of low self-esteem.

Gender often affects the level of sense of self-perception in relation to obesity and self-esteem as well. In most cultures, girls are generally under more pressure than boys to conform to a certain accepted standard of beauty. This may cause extreme feelings of inadequacy that is reflected in a self-esteem lower than that of boys of the same age.

Even among children, obesity and self-esteem are linked. This is manifested in the way some children tease and taunt other children, including those overweight, who do not seem to fit into the accepted pattern. This causes low self-esteem in such children and feelings of not measuring up to the rest of their peers due to their weight.

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Discussion Comments

croydon

@Mor - One of the best things I've done to boost my self esteem is to just start looking at pictures of larger models. It's amazing how much your self image will improve when you can see pictures of someone who looks a little bit like you done up in a glamorous way.

I'm not even that overweight, really, but it's difficult to see that when I have low self esteem. Making sure I don't just see supermodels all day everyday in magazines is like getting a shot of reality.

Mor

@MrsPramm - To anyone who feels like that, I would tell them to just ignore anyone who might be judgmental. It's difficult to change self esteem, but even when I felt bad about myself, I could still realize that anyone who looked down on me for exercising while I was heavy was probably a very bad person and their opinion didn't matter.

That doesn't solve the food problem, but in my experience the best way to combat that is to try and stay as busy as possible (without causing undue stress). I never seem to feel hungry if I'm really concentrating on something active (the TV doesn't count) and achieving goals helps self esteem as well.

MrsPramm

Low self esteem can also lead to obesity in some people. If you associate food with treats or rewards you might end up eating more when you feel bad, which can be all the time if you've got low self esteem.

Then, if you really feel bad about yourself, you aren't going to want to go out and exercise in public, particularly anything that ends up exposing your body, like swimming or working out in a gym or in a class.

It becomes a vicious cycle and leads to the person feeling worse and worse about themselves.

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    • Obesity is a serious issue that not only affects the self-esteem of the obese, but it can also lead to some negative health consequences as well.
      Obesity is a serious issue that not only affects the self-esteem of the obese, but it can also lead to some negative health consequences as well.
    • Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem, and even obesity.
      Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem, and even obesity.